Friday, April 6, 2012
"The BLU-82B/C-130 weapon system, known under program "Commando Vault" and nicknamed "daisy cutter" in Vietnam and in Afghanistan for its ability to flatten a forest into a helicopter landing zone, is a 15,000 pound (6,800 kg) conventional bomb, delivered from either a C-130 or an MC-130 transport aircraft. 225 were constructed. The BLU-82 was retired in 2008 and replaced with the more powerful MOAB.
Originally designed to create an instant clearing in the jungles of Vietnam, the BLU-82B/C-130 was test-dropped there from a CH-54 Tarhe "Flying crane" helicopter. Later it was used in Afghanistan as an anti-personnel weapon and as an intimidation weapon because of its very large lethal radius (variously reported as 300 to 900 feet/100 to 300 meters) combined with a visible flash and audible sound at long distances. It is one of the largest conventional weapons ever to be used, outweighed only by a few earth quake bombs, thermobaric bombs, and demolition (bunker buster) bombs. Some of these include the Grand Slam and T12 earthquake bombs of late World War II, and more currently, the Russian Air Force FOAB and USAF GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, and the Massive Ordnance Penetrator.
The designation "BLU" stands for Bomb Live Unit, as opposed to "BDU" (Bomb Dummy Units) used for practice.
The BLU-82 uses conventional explosive ammonium nitrate and aluminum, incorporating both agent and oxidizer. In contrast, fuel-air explosives (FAE) consist only of an agent and a dispersing mechanism, and take their oxidizers from the oxygen in the air. FAEs generally run between 500 and 2,000 pounds (225 and 900 kg); making an FAE the size of a daisy cutter would be difficult because the correct uniform mixture of agent with ambient air would be difficult to maintain if the agent were so widely dispersed. Thus, the conventional explosive of a daisy cutter is more reliable than that of an FAE, particularly if there is significant wind or thermal gradient."
Duke Field Airmen drop last (BLU-82) 15,000-pound bomb